Local Resident Joins Fight Against MS
Multiple Sclerosis, commonly known as MS, currently effects over 2.5 million people throughout the world and over 400,000 here in America. MS is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system (the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord). MS can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, blindness and more. MS is not considered a fatal disease as the vast majority of people with it live a normal life-span; however, they may struggle to live pain-free and as productively as they desire, often facing increasing limitations--especially if they are lacking in necessary financial and emotional support.
So, how can Americans renew a sense of passion against MS and help those who suffer from it? The only way we know how. We band together.
Vineland resident Brittany Orlandini has recently joined up with the non-profit organization known as Bike the US for MS, to ride a bicycle coast-to-coast this summer, in the hopes of raising as much money, awareness and spirits as possible along the way.
On May 28, 2012 Brittany and 15 other Americans will begin a 4,295 mile trek which will take them from Bar Harbor, Maine to Seattle, Washington over a period of 68 days. The journey will conclude at a celebratory gathering on August 4 in which Bike the US for MS will hand over a sizable charitable contribution to the director of The Swedish Neuroscience Institute and The MS Wellness Center in downtown Seattle, to help supplement their ongoing battle against and further our understanding of MS.
Brittany and team will be riding a path across America known as the Northern Tier, which takes a route almost directly parallel and within a few hundred miles of the boundary with Canada. They will be dealing directly with all the elements Mother Nature has to throw at them, including something one might take for granted if one doesn’t spend too much time on a bicycle. The wind. The wind generally blows from west to east across the contiguous part of the American landscape. Which means they will not only have to deal with the inevitably difficult and steady climb of both the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains, but they will also have to do it with a consistent head wind that will do everything it can to try to slow down their gained momentum. Not to mention the fact that they will be riding across punishing open stretches of plains under the summer sun and over the top of elevated, bitter-cold and even snowcapped mountain passes.
Now, that already seems like quite a monumental task of kindness and charity to give to a complete stranger, but not to these dedicated citizens. They will also be stopping along the way for volunteer renovation projects designed to re-build, repair and reorder the homes of those suffering from MS. These projects include yard makeovers, cleaning, painting, or anything else that may be difficult for people living with MS to complete on their own. On top of it all they are funding 100 per cent of the trip out of their own pockets. That includes all costs for necessary bicycle repair, as well as any daily necessities such as food, washing clothes, bathing, and lodging. The group has plans to sleep in tents along road sides and in back yards, prepare and cook their own food BBQ style on the grill and bath and wash clothes in volunteers’ homes all along the way just so they can save any unnecessary expenditure of cash. It is their wish that all possible donated funds go directly to those who need it most. Only 10% of all monies donated to the non-profit organization will go to the logistics of such a prolonged venture; including such items as the follow (supplies) vehicle and first-aid.
However, all of the rider’s hard work and determination out on the road is just the beginning to a renewed passion for bringing about positive change in the way MS is perceived and treated. Brittany says “I have found something to take a stand for and something I can believe in. But one doesn’t necessarily need to go to such an extreme, such as a cross-country ride, to make a difference in the life of an MS patient. Whether it’s a simple trip to the grocery store or just voluntarily raking up some fallen leaves out of the yard; the small effort of being there emotionally to share some time with an MS patient suffering and alone can make all the difference in their happiness and ability to live a more peaceful life. The struggles in my own life are almost nothing in comparison to the physical and mental struggles in which MS patients will have to deal with for the entirety of their lives. And it’s my hope that with all of our combined efforts we can give these people a small part of their normal lives back”. She went on to say, “I have also always wanted to take a bike trip across the country and because I have the time off from work and amazing support from my family, I figured this was the right time to become part of something both real and lasting.”
Brittany recently returned from Korea where she has been teaching abroad for more than a year. Since her return she has been in training for the cross-country challenge and gives a lot of thanks to the local riding club known as the Vineland Velocity for helping increase both her stamina and agility. “I have also gotten used to eating lots of peanut butter and drinking lots of coconut water” Both products a staple of any prolonged aerobic workout, due to the high fat and protein content found in the peanut butter, as well as the high levels of potassium and replenishing electrolytes found in the coconut water.
Brittany and Bike the US for MS encourage anyone interested in becoming actively involved or simply just interested in following the progress of the cross-country ride online, to check out the website www.biketheusforms.org. Many people across the country will be joining in to ride portions of the journey or to volunteer at the planned events along the way.
Brittany was required to raise over $4,000 to participate in the charity event and one local business, Villa Fazzolari’s Italian Restaurant, has stepped in to help with donations. Anyone interested in helping Brittany’s cause can stop in and purchase a $5 bracelet with the moniker Bike the US for MS on it. All funds will go directly to helping her bring awareness and support for MS patients all across America this summer.
Written by Randy Gardenhire